How will the NFL's significant rule changes affect the Atlanta Falcons?

The NFL has passed some noteworthy rule changes that will have an impact on the Atlanta Falcons.

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons
Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Every year the NFL's owners get together and discuss the current state of the league. This is when we see rules proposed by a few teams that later get voted on by the owners.

In recent years, we have seen changes such as the addition of a 17th game, the ability to fair catch outside of the end zone on kickoffs and get the ball on the 25, banning the use of a helmet on tackles, etc.

Most years, the new rules are not too significant, but that is not the case this year as the league has banned yet another way to tackle, added the ability for roughing the passer, intentional grounding, and illegal tackles to be quickly reviewed and overturned before they are called on the field, and a new setup to kickoffs.

How the new rules affect the Atlanta Falcons: 'Hip-drop tackles'

The NFL was not going to be stopped when it came to banning what is known as the 'hip-drop tackle.' While it is a violent, and often gruesome, tackle, defenders are now put in an even tougher position when trying to end a play.

'Hip-drop tackles' are exactly what they sound like; a player holds onto a ball carrier and drops their hips which leads to all sorts of twisted legs and knees.

This will obviously affect the Falcons and every other team. This should result in fewer lower-body injuries but there might be unintended consequences after the NFL hammers this new rule into players. Players' target when going for a tackle will be higher, which may lead to hits to the head—especially with the frequency of ball carriers lowering their head to where their midsection is when anticipating a tackle.

Players will just have to adjust—when owners want something, there is nothing the NFL Players Association can do.

How the new rules affect the Atlanta Falcons: Replay assistance with select penalties

Next up is the use of the replay booth on select flags. The officials upstairs can now radio down to the field to tell an official that there wasn't a 'hip-drop tackle,' there was clearly no roughing the passer, or that the quarterback was out of the pocket when he threw the ball away thus not warranting an 'intentional grounding' penalty.

Well, this would have been nice two years ago...

We could have seen the replay officials overturn Grady Jarrett's sack on Tom Brady that was called 'roughing the passer' during the 2022 season.

The Falcons always seem to be a few years behind rule changes. They should have had the opportunity to match the Patriots in overtime in Super Bowl LI and Grady's flag should've been picked up. Start complaining more Falcons! For heck's sake, you have Rich McKay—the head of the NFL Competition Committee—in the building.

How the new rules affect the Atlanta Falcons: Adjusted kickoffs

The most visible rule change you will see is the new kickoff setup. To reduce injuries, the league has shortened the distance between the kickoff coverage and blocking teams. The kicker and kick returner will be alone while the other ten players for each team will be ready to make contact when the ball is received.

If you want a visual, deep breakdown of the rule, then I suggest you watch this video:

This is an interesting dynamic for the Falcons. It appears Cordarrelle Patterson will not be returning but depending on how things play out, his value on a team may significantly rise or fall. We will just have to see whether kick returns become more successful or an even bigger afterthought.